The police in Italy are divided into two main forces: the polizia and the carabinieri. The polizia are the ones you are most likely to come across as a tourist in Rome, as they handle much of the petty crime and theft.
The carabinieri are actually part of the military. As well as fighting drug-related crime within Italy, they are also deployed overseas, with recent deployments including Iraq & Afghanistan. The Italian public seem to have mixed feelings about the carbinieri; although they are lauded for their bravery, there are plenty of carabinieri jokes, which usually focus on their supposed vanity and stupidity. It has been suggested that this is a form of northern snobbery, based on the idea that the carabinieri are often recruited from the south of Italy, having taken the job in order to escape the poverty of that region.
There are a variety of smaller police forces, which you're less likely to encounter as a tourist in Rome. As well as the Vigili Urbani, who handle traffic control and parking fines, the other forces include the Guardia di Finanza who are in charge of smuggling and tax issues, and the motorway patrols of the Polizia Stradale. Be wary if you're approached by anybody claiming to be part of a 'tourist police' force, though: see our page on scams for details.
Central Police Station / Questura Centrale
The main police station, or Questura Centrale, is located at Piazza del Collegio Romano 3 (off Via del Corso). The telephone number is 06 4686.
Emergency telephone numbers
- Police: 112
- Ambulance: 113
- Fire: 115